How did the mad Munchkin Company come up with the story and script for their latest work, Paper: Garden Entomos? Check out these interviews with Artistic Director Laura Wilhelm and Playwright Anne Bertram to find out….
MMP: When and how did you start the writing process?
Laura: We starting having writing meetings in early October. I presented some lasting impressions I had from our trip to Japan in August and expressed my goals for this production. Then…. we just started talking… and Ted woudl draw. We have a big brainstorming notebook and ted records everything we talk about in pictures. One idea leads to images and more ideas until- wahlah! A story!
MMP: Is there anything unique about your process?
Laura: Well, we write collaboratively. The story and script are created by all of us pitching in ideas together, even down to writing individual lines. Sometimes we will each be pitching in words! Other times we will divide up sections of the story to work on and each bring back a scene as a starting place to our next meeting. I can truly say that our stories are “company created and collaboratively written”.
MMP: Anything different about writing Paper Garden as compared to you other shows?
Laura: This show has a lot more dialogue than anything we’ve written in the past. We usually write in images, so, while I loved our story and characters, I was a little concerned about the flow of our language. That is what made me approach Anne Bertram to help us with the dialogue and clarifying the characters and themes. Best decision I made!
MMP: Nice volley! Let’s check in with Anne. Anne, have you ever written for puppets before?
Anne: Uh, well, true confessions: yes, when I was about 12, in Sunday School. Nothing like as sophisticated as this!
MMP: Was this writing process new/different for you, or have you written in collaboration like this before?
Anne: Any theatre production is a collaboration, so I’m well-accustomed to making changes based on insights or questions from other artists. What was new about this process for me was working with you-all to strengthen the story YOU wanted to tell, as opposed to a story that started in my head.
MMP: Were there any challenges in tackling this script?
Anne: Well, the first draft was too short and left a lot of questions up in the air, so we had to go back and find places where we could unfold or clarify specific moments. I think that we gained a lot by pushing on through. That’s pretty common in my experience actually – arriving at some of the strongest material after what looked at first like a stopping place.
MMP: Do any characters or events from the story resonate with you?
The Butterfly Lady had some things in common with my grandmother – her love of butterflies, and her decorum. Because of that resonance, I applied some pressure of my own to the story – wanting us to have a chance to see her strengths, as well as some of her limitations.
MMP: Wonderful! Thanks.
For those of you out there wondering who the Butterfly Lady is… Come see Paper Garden: Entomos opening March 22nd! The latest draft of the script has hit the rehearsal hall and the actors are having a grand time with it!